Plight of the Ismaili Community – Part 2: Jamat’s Mistreatment at Dīdar Events

Since most of Hazar Imam’s time is taken up by useless egoistic projects, for 30 years he has not been allowed time for ordinary murids to perform religious rites for which an ordinary murid craves and which is the prime function of Imam. If Mr. Sachedina, the navigator and planner, had interest of Jamat at heart, he would plan all the activities of Hazar Imam in such a way so that religious rites and deedars  could also have been regularly performed along with other commitments of Hazar Imam. This is because while religious rites need be performed once in a while, dīdar can be planned periodically for all major locations of Jamat.

A dīdar  takes merely 45 minutes i.e., as little time as to take a shower. Each time Hazar Imam visits a city, on an average he spends 48 hours. While several hours are allocated for lavish banquets with underlying leaders, how ridiculous and cruel is the planning by Mr. Sachedina that a mere 45 minutes could not be spared for a dīdar. If once in a while a dīdar is arranged, prior notice is hardly given and is held at the most awkward time. In other words convenience of Jamat and local Council and organizers is not taken into account. This is when it is more than obvious that murids all the time crave for Hazar Imam’s dīdar.  Their life  revolves around the Jamaatkhana and they do not question what the leadership does to the hard-earned money they give by starving their families.

For the past 50 years, the Jamat has been kept on a backburner. At least during the Jubilee year, the Jamat should have been given a priority and all the deedars should have been planned a few months ahead for the convenience of Jamaats, Council and organizers. Sadly, even during Jubilee, the dates for the deedars were announced at the last minute without any concern whatsoever that organizers would have to go through hell to organize and get halls. On the other hand, events relating to useless egoistic projects and banquets for underlying leaders were scheduled months ahead.

If dīdars, as a matter of routine, were held in most cities periodically,   murids would not have to travel to other cities and countries incurring colossal costs. Because of the short notice of deedars, murids always have to pay through their nose for last minute airfare and hotels. This trend continued even in the Jubilee year. It is estimated that  millions of dollars were unnecessarily wasted which could have been better used for charity if their plight was at heart. The proposed date of dīdar is known by underlying leadership and their close ones. However, it is kept secret from ordinary murids treating them as a second-class murids. One wonders why should the date of dīdar be kept secret?

As a result, there is a natural tendency for murids to speculate the date of dīdar through rumors. A lot of murids anxious for the dīdar, make travel arrangements based on speculated and ‘most likely’ dates and take risk based on rumors. While the leadership would be fully aware of rumors and murids making such travel arrangements, they would not have a decency to send a short message to say there would, or would not be a dīdar event. Can anything be more terrible than this?

Three years back when Hazar Imam started to perform the religious rites – at the first such religious ceremonies in East Africa he apologized for 30 years he could not perform the religious rites. Therefore he assured that thenceforth he would regularly give dīdar and perform rites. To continue with the process, he would visit all the countries. Later he visited a couple of countries and all is now forgotten as  most of time is taken up by high-profile AKFED and AKDN projects. If  Mr. Sachedina had Jamat at heart, and had really sharpened his pencil, these deedars could have been included in Hazar Imam’s schedule as lavish banquets for underlying leadership are always included. Hence, thanks to Mr. Sachedina, the high hope of Jamat for deedars and performance of religious rites have been shattered.

For not holding the dīdar, sometime lame or ridiculous excuses such as difficulty of arranging security is given. During jubilee, a lavish banquet by the leadership was held in wilderness of a Safari Park in Nairobi without any concern for security. On the other hand Imam goes about his daily life barely with any or a couple of body guards. Since he does not indulge in politics, he is least controversial, and so no one would have any reason to hurt him. Nonetheless the ‘security arrangements’ is always thrown around for not planning Dīdar events.

We will now look at some actual events of disgusting treatments of Murids tantamount to Mr. Sachedina, the planner, who did not have the Jamat at heart:


1. Jubilee Dīdar in Dubai
2. The Texas Tragedy: Jubilee Dīdar in San Antonio instead of Houston
3. Shocking Vancouver-Alberta Dīdar
4. Silver Jubilee Dīdar in Los Angeles
5. Nairobi: Imamat Day Cancelled but Lavish Youth Convention with Princess Zahra held
6. Jubilee Dīdar in Nairobi and Banquet in Safari Park
7. Darbar at Nairobi – Princess Zahra Absent

1. Jubilee Dīdar in Dubai

Remember that the Jamat and the ordinary murid crave for the dīdar and would do anything for it. There was a speculation about date for Jubilee Dīdar in Dubai, and as usual a strong rumor was triggered. While the leadership knew of rumors and also that murids were travelling, they did not bother alerting them by sending a two line message to warn that there would not be any dīdar. Two thousand murids took risk and travelled to Dubai. Imagine a burden on Dubai Jamat of only 1,800 to look after the visiting Jamat members  and accommodate them at the Jamatkhana at the last minute. Each of these murids who traveled must have spent an average of $3,000 for airfare and hotel. Hence whopping $6m of community went down the drain. For such a catastrophe, leadership did not even blink at all or apologize about it.  Instead they had audacity to blame Jamat for it. $6m is a colossal amount for such a poor community. As enlightened above, since each dollar can make big difference to poor, how much would $6m have helped the plight of poor?

2. The Texas Tragedy: Jubilee Dīdar in San Antonio instead of Houston

Whereas there are 22,000 Ismailis in Houston, there are only 1,000 in San Antonio. However it was decided to have Dīdar in San Antonio as a hall was available there on the 15th but in Houston only on the 16th. As usual, an extremely short notice was given to have  just 45-minute Dīdar.  San Antonio is 225 miles from Houston. As a result 22,000 murids had to travel for just a 45-minute event to San Antonio where the Jamat strength is only 1,000 and San Antonio with such little Jamat had to take care of 22,000. The irony is that after a week, Hazar Imam visited Houston for a couple of days for his personal business. If interest of Jamat was at heart, this 45-minute Dīdar could have been squeezed into Hazar Imam’s schedule so that so many members of the Jamat did not have to travel so far and create a nightmare for the organizers.

3. Shocking Vancouver-Alberta Dīdar

Six or seven years back, there was a joint Dīdar for Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. However the Dīdar event was arranged in Vancouver. Vancouver (and British Columbia overall) had 9,000 Ismailis. Alberta (Calgary and  Edmonton) had 11,000 Ismailis. As usual, it was a short notice, and as usual the Dīdar was only for 45 minutes. It should be borne in mind that in Canada there are 70,000 Ismailis and 45% are either on welfare or on the verge of welfare and live hand-to-mouth. Vancouver is 600 miles or 12 hours drive from Calgary and Edmonton. Vancouver was to provide just  3 or 4 meals and Albertans were to arrange their own hotels. Vancouver had arranged accommodation with Ismaili families but was not publicized and most did not know of it. The trip to Vancouver had cost each family an average of $3,000 which indeed is very stiff for those on welfare. While the Dīdar was just for 45 minutes, the lunch for Hazar Imam organized by President of Council entailed 3 hours and had 200 guests, mostly consisting of friends and relatives of President. The sad part is that while imam flew over alberta in own private jet, if he had landed for couple hours for just 45 min dīdar, those 11,000 would not had to travel  to Vancouver leaving work and schools for 3 days. It cost Albertans a whopping $12 million (4,000 families x $3,000) which indeed just went down the drain without measuring the cost of inconvenience and the wages which were lost by those working per-hour jobs. This is a colossal amount when 85% of world Ismailis barely earn $2-a-day.

While the President got three hours for his lunch, there was no decency for a 30 minute  photo session with volunteers who had worked round the clock for several days for the Dīdar. Since all Ismailis crave for photo with the Imam, the volunteers would have cherished the photo throughout their lives. Such treatment of Jamat is cruel. If Mr. Sachedina had sharpened his pencil just a little bit, he could have easily included a 45-minute Dīdar in Calgary so that 11,000 would not have to travel and would have also arranged a photo session for the volunteers. Can there be anything shocking or mean than this?

4. Silver Jubilee Dīdar in Los Angeles

The Silver Jubilee was celebrated in early 1980s when there were only 4,000 Ismailis in Texas and only 500 in Los Angeles. Most of them had come illegally from Pakistan and India without a dime. Texas is about 1,200 miles from Los Angeles, i.e., 2½ days ride by a car. Since there was an important horse racing event in Los Angeles, presumably because of race, it was decided to have Silver Jubilee dīdar in Los Angeles. Hence 4,000 hand-to-mouth murids had to take a long excruciating trip to Los Angeles, California from Texas. Most packed up 6 to 7 members of their family in a small old car and slept in the car even when in Los Angeles.  While the horse race took lot of time of Hazar Imam, the Dīdar, as usual, was only for 45 minutes. As usual, there was a banquet by President of Council in honor of Hazar Imam which lasted for 3 hours. The sad part is that Hazar Imam  after  the Dīdar  changed his attire in the Dīdar hall and  immediately dashed for Washington where his $40m, yacht was taking part in a race. It is believed that he spent a couple of days in Washington. The irony was that after a couple of weeks, he was in  Houston for a two days on his personal business visit. If the interest of Jamat was at heart, late Sir Eboo, then aide or navigator could have had separate Dīdar in Los Angeles and Texas to synchronize with  Hazar Imam’s visits to California and Texas.

At present, there are 90,000 Ismailis in USA and most are well-settled with the immigration status and have private businesses. Each year, hundreds of thousands of illegal non-Ismailis substantially Mexicans, enter the US. Since the economy has an appetite for immigrants, every 7 or 8 years amnesty or legal resident status is granted to them. The irony is that when these Pakistani Ismailis were trying to come to usa illegally without a dime, instead of helping, the Ismaili Council was discouraging them. This was because it was thought that they were spoiling community’s name. Even when they were in usa hand to mouth, the council never helped them. The irony is that they are now so affluent, USA is now the highest contributor to community’s budget which is $1 billion. Second highest is Canada with the population of 70,000. These Ismaili immigrants are self-made without support from community. Similarly, 10% Ismailis worldwide who do well financially, achieved this status themselves without any support from the community.

5. Nairobi: Imamat Day Cancelled but Lavish Youth Convention with Princess Zahra Held

Few years back in Kenya, Imamat Day celebrations were cancelled. The reason given was the drought. On the other hand, a few days later, a convention of 150 youths with princess Zahra was hosted  in a five-star hotel in Nairobi. While the cost of Imamat Day for 4,000 murids would have been barely $15,000, the cost of convention with only 150 participants was about $200,000. It could have been easily hosted in our own facility which is well set up and lot of other events are hosted there, not bearing mind that Ismaili community is one of the poorest as of total world Ismailis of 2.5m. 85% barely earn $2 a day i.e., less than Africans. Kenya is prone to drought all the time. As such, during such calamity, life nonetheless carries on normally as all the restaurants and clubs are open till late night, and big conventions and weddings are held with pomp. Religious events such Imamat Day, Christmas, Diwali and Eid are events to thank the Almighty. As such, they are never, never and never cancelled no matter what. Even during the war when people were dying in millions, they continued to be celebrated. For instance, during the war, on the Frigate warship, while on one side the casualties are brought in, on the  other side celebration of Christmas continued. This is glaring example that costly youth convention of 150 with Princess Zahra was far important than the traditional Imamat Day for 4,000 Ismailis.

6. Jubilee Dīdar in Nairobi and Banquet in Safari Park

Nairobi had the privilege to host the first Golden Jubilee Dīdar. Being the first dīdar, just like the opening of the Olympic Games, it should have been with a great pomp. 12,000 murids had gathered with lot of enthusiasm. The dīdar was like a normal dīdar for only 45 minutes. Although Ruhani family members visited East Africa frequently, none of them were there to grace the occasion. Now hold your breath to know difference in treatment of ordinary jamat in underlying leaders: There was an extra lavish banquet with 300 Ismaili leaders with Hazar Imam right in the middle of wilderness of Safari Park. The cost of it is reckoned to be as much as cost of all the meals of 12,000 murids for four days. It entailed several hours. Mr. Sachedina did not plan for Hazar Imam to be with his murids for just few minutes during Dandia-Raas celebrations. Can there be anything more obvious than this how Jamat is treated as second-class compared to the Jamati leaders?

7. Darbar at Nairobi – Princess Zahra Absent

Three years back Hazar Imam performed religious rites ceremonies in Nairobi. On one day there was a grand Dīdar where all local and outside murids were allowed. The Dīdar was held in a compound which comprises of Darkhana, a hall and a club. Adjacent is the Aga Khan University Hospital. Hazar Imam was at the Darbar hardly for 25 minutes. At the time of Darbar Princess Zahara was visiting the next door hospital. While the Jamat craves to see Ruhani family members, Princess Zahara did not spare just five minutes drop in at the Darbar.  In fact, while Ruhani family members visit East Africa frequently and have lavish banquets with underlying leadership, none have ever shown quest to meet the Jamat.

In Part 3 of this article, we will look at how skewed data is presented to Hazar Imam and the wordwide community of 15-20 million Ismailis when in reality, the real number is totally different.

Plight of the Ismaili Community – Part 1: Hijacked

Children who disagree with parents and Imam may love more, as their Imaan could be solid like a ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ and not shallow like that of fanatics. Hazar Imam in most farmans emphasizes that Muslim religion respects intelligence which tantamount to not taking a thing at its face value but to reason it out. Hazar Imam also consults professionals and seeks feedback, including from Jamaat to help in making decisions. Fanatics are people who refuse to even look up to their nose-tips and then look down on others and think they are “God-send” and God’s favourite.

Part 1 of this shocking article will look at how the Mukhi/Kamdias are sidelined by Mr. Sachedina and CEOs of useless egoistic institutions.


1. How the Council has been Sidelined and Distanced from Hazar Imam
2. Eboo and Sachedina: Sole Navigators and Dictators
3. The Copyright Suit was an Act of Dictatorship
4. Jamaat at the Mercy of Eboo and Sachedina
5. Why is International Leaders Forum (ILF) Ineffective?
6. Sale of AKUH would give Lifetime Medical Cover to 9,000 East African Ismailis
7. Why are Jamati Institutions Not Necessary

1. How the Council Has Been Distanced from Hazar Imam

Ismailis have Councils in most countries and Mukhi/Kamadias (Priests) in each city where there are Ismailis. In fact, like a mother who can sense every second pulse of her child, the Council and Mukhi/Kamadias  being all the time close to Jamaat, could sense every second pulse of the Jamaat. If one has a desire to serve the Jamaat, one cannot distance Council and Mukhi/Kamadias from himself. This would be as serious as distancing a mother from a child. In the old days, because of substantial commitment of personal business empire, it became necessary for Hazar Imam to have an aide like late Sir Eboo, who acted as his right hand.

Due to the tendency of Hazar Imam to rely on late Sir Eboo, he wielded so much power that even President of National Council, to have access to Hazar Imam had to go through Sir Eboo. All the feedback about Jamaat from Council was filtered by him and Hazar Imam got only what he wanted Hazar Imam to know. As such, as far as Council and Jamaat were concerned, for all practical purposes, on worldly matters, he was the Imam.

2. Eboo and Sachedina: Sole Navigators and Dictators

Earlier, late Sir Eboo was an aide to Hazar Imam and currently it is Mr. Sachedina. There is a tendency for a leader to mostly act on the advice and feedback of his aide, who tend to become like a navigator of a ship. This is a natural phenomenon about having a personal aide. Just like the captain has to navigate the ship exactly as the navigator directs, there is tendency for a leader too, to follow the directions and advice of the aide. Hence, for all practical purpose, the navigator or aide tends to be the key person. Once these aides or advisors realize the power that they have, they themselves become ‘Gods’ in their own right. If anybody tries to cross them, they crush that person.

3. The Copyright Suit was an Act of Dictatorship

On the face, the copyright suit against the Nagib group, which was initiated by Mr. Sachedina, is a good example of hard handedness of an aide. The Nagib group were constant critics of Mr. Sachedina and were exposing his shortcomings that severely affected the Jamaat. Nagib group had published just a few farmans of Hazar Imam. To crush them, he instituted a suit in the civil court in Toronto for breach of copyright against them; whereas millions of farmans are all the time published and still continue to be published on the internet by murids, no person in the right mind would bother to punish someone who publishes a handful of farmans. Perhaps this analogy will reflect how ridiculous it was to institute the suit.

For example, there is a bee farmer. As long as the bees are in his control, it would be a criminal offense to steal them. However, once they escape and are out of control of the owner, a finder can keep them without having committed an offence.  Same can be true for copyrighted material. Since morally it would not be wrong for a finder to keep the bees or copyright material.  If in technically legal terms it is illegal, moral law should prevail. It was more than obvious that Mr. Sachadina, who was instrumental to the suit, acted maliciously. If he was bona fide, instead of washing Jamaat’s ‘dirty linen in the public’, he would have used in-house machinery of the council and reconciliation board. While all the time Nagib group begged that if an audience was granted with Hazar Imam, they would drop the defense, this never happened. All these legal proceedings were done in spite of the fact that Nagib and his group were the most dedicated murids.

Hence, if things are so lopsided, and the community is being treated like dirt, the buck entirely stops with Mr. Sachedina as a navigator. The way he tried to crush Nagib Group, most likely, instead of being humble and accept sad plight of Jamaat due to his shortcomings, he may try to also to crush the author of this and other papers.

4. Jamaat at the Mercy of Eboo and Sachedina

In old days, when late Sir Eboo was the aide or navigator to Hazar Imam,  the affairs of community had become like a ‘runaway train’ as Hazar Imam was basically pushed away from his murids. When the current Constitution was inaugurated, Hazar Imam had assured that thence forward the President of National Council, like Cabinet Minister of a country, would have a direct access to him, there would be a hotline and at  least once in a three months each President would have an audience with him. This would ensure that Hazar Imam was aware of pulse of his beloved murids on a regular basis.

Sadly, it has so happened that apart from political issues in Tajikstan and Afghanistan, the Institutions and other projects have mushroomed up to put constraint on Hazar Imam’s time. As result, a substitute of late Sir Eboo i.e. Mr. Sachedina has emerged. This time it is worse than the old days. To further sideline Council thereby also Mukhi/Kamadias and Jamaat at large, a bunch of arrogant CEOs of Institutions have also emerged. Hence, most of the time of Hazar Imam is taken up by egoistic Projects from which Jamaat does not derive even 2% benefit. Now Hazar Imam is basically surrounded by Mr. Sachedina and CEOs  and gets only filtered feedback about his beloved murids from Mr. Sachedina.

5. Why is International Leaders Forum (ILF) Ineffective?

Instead of Hazar Imam being in constant touch with Presidents of National Council like Cabinet Minister, a Board called International Leaders Forum (ILF) has been created merely as a think tank which meets periodically to give feedback to Hazar Imam. This cannot be a substitute like President of a country having Cabinet Ministers for feedback. The equates to a third person giving feedback about that intensity of the pain which a child is suffering to the child’s mother instead of the child.

None of members of ILF have thus far demonstrated a skill or talent to think critically. If they had an effective thinking cap, they would have created several ‘camp fires’ about affairs of community, for example the issue of being like a run-away train. Issues like the Council being sidelined, 85% of resources being used for Institutions for the richest of richest, 85% of 2.2m murids earning barely $2-a-day and having annual budget of a meagre $1 billion and  therefore community being pathetically poor, it should be 110%  focused on poor sector and not be bothered to help others etc. It should strike to LIF like a torpedo, as apart from murids being sidelined, they are being treated like dirt. This is because the underlying leaders are completely drenched in the fame and prestige of these useless egoistic Institutions.

6. Sale of AKUH would give Lifetime Medical Cover to 9,000 East African Ismailis

If LIF had even a little sense, it would have at once noticed the shocking wastage of resources. How much resources are being wasted away has been analyzed in other papers taking Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, as an example.  It suffices to mention here that whopping $125m capital is entangled in the hospital. The community does not derive even a dime of benefit from it. To ‘pull wool over the eyes’ of Jamaat there is a token program for poor. But then further funds are extorted from the community for this token program. If it was sold off and proceed of sale of $125m was invested, say in Kenya’s T-Bond @ 11%, it could yield interest of as much as $14m p.a. In Kenya TBond interest averages 11% +, average borrowing rate is 15% and inflation 7% +. Hence if an investment did not show 20%+ profit, it would not be worth to have.

AKUH is the most expensive hospital. The irony is that, while being for the richest of richest, it uses ‘time and knowledge volunteers’ who think that hospital is for the poor. With such high tariffs and using ‘time and knowledge volunteers’, if it was managed properly, it should have been showing profit of $20m per annum. It could have been used for poor instead of extracting further funds from the Jamaat.  If AKUH Nairobi would be sold off, then just from the Interest income free medical coverage for all 9,000 e. african ismailis could be provided forever and ever.

As for AKUH Karachi, trillions of coverages could be provided. Even a child could see how much resources are being wasted away by such institutions which are merely for a prestige. Since it has not so far provided any free treatment, each year it should have added to its coffer $20 m from profit and by now it would have accumulated to a $200m in addition to the capital outlay. Sadly, such is pathetic plight of most of the institutions. If such tragedies  did not strike to ILF, at least this alert should  hit ILF like a torpedo to create a ‘campfire’ for these two hospitals and later on about all other such institutions.

7. Why are Jamati Institutions Not Necessary

Wisdom dictates that if one can get vegetable cheap at a grocery store, why hassle growing your own. In fact all the services provided by Jamaati Institutions can get at a same or better terms in an open market. Common sense dictates that because of such a pathetic record, most institutions should be liquidated forthwith to save community from ongoing calamity.

It is said that professionals are people who know more and more about less and walk with ‘chip on shoulder’ as if they know all. As such, they are suited only for a task-force. Hence, an effective ‘think tank’ should comprise of 40% professionals and 60% layperson who have the talent to ‘look at issues from outside the box’ or critically. While these thinkers hear the professionals, they throw scenarios at the professionals based on logic and philosophy to trigger the minds of professionals.

In Part 2 of this article, we will look at how the Jamaat is being treated like dirt by the appointed power-hungry leaders and ‘public pronouncements’ by Hazar Imam are being kept secret from the Jamaat for no reason.

Nizari Ismaili Community: The Corruption Within

One of my best Ismaili friends sent me an e-mail which he wrote to a Yahoo! group to be put on board to let the group members know about the corruption within his local Ismaili community in Ontario. His e-mail was not published because of the group’s policy to post only positives about the Imam and the Imamat.

Here is the open letter which he wrote, quoted below:

Ismailis are emotionally controlled by their leaders and Imam indirectly through the leadership of individual institutes. Those Institutes consists of religious and social groups, religious groups are Jamati Mukhi and Kamadias and also the Majalis Mukhi and Kamadias along with the Private Majalis like: Life Dedication (giving your life Symbolically to the Imam of the time), Fidai Majlis (becoming a symbolic soldier of the Imam’s Army) and Noorani Majlis (You enrich with the closest sight of the Imam’s noor, again Symbolically) ¼th or Mubarak Majlis where you give the 1/4th of your income to the Imam of the time.

Most of the appointments for the Institutes and “Private Majalis” are made by Imam. No doubt the Imam has no such time that he knows and picks the people of his choice, he delegates his work to his Institutional chairs to recommend the appropriate names with the proper background check. It is a human work therefore one can see the close friends and loved ones and financially influenced people are posted on different key positions. Like in one of the centers in Ontario the father is in-charge of the Jamatkhana fund collection team and son is the in-charge of two different institutes, while the mother is responsible of collecting and counting the daily cash from the Jamatkhana and son-in-law is the In charge of financial running of the center.

There are several petty institutes within the Jamaat like the Funeral Committee, IVC, IJV and a lot more. One can observe all the politics all over the system. The reason for writing this description is to highlight the facts that how the system works and how the facts are followed-up after these appointments. The corruption exists everywhere and in every system. But the corruption in these Ismaili Centers and particularly in one jurisdiction is beyond the imagination of the Imam’s vision.

The people appointed in different positions are not even capable to function their duties with the grace and humility. They are appointed because of their financial or personal influence. In some cases and in Majalis friends have recommended the friends and Imam approved the names on the basis of trust and lack of divine power. The center in particular I am talking about has biggest known corruption in whole Ismaili community in Canada.

The people who are the in charge of Funeral committee and some important Majalis are past and present womanizers and had lost their jobs because of the work place sexual abuse. One of the Kamadias in a Majlis is almost a Conman artist. The distant past Mukhi of the Jamat, was that he was expelled from his business because of harassing an employee at the workplace.

One of the former Jamati Kamadia and the in-charge of a private Majalis is involved in a relationship with a young single girl of the Jamat. Even after caught by the people he is still in the state of denial. A former in-charge of the volunteer group, who is married, was involved in an extramarital relation with a divorcee. The Kamadia of a private Majlis has a pending law suit with his own father and family.

The height of hypocrisy is that everybody is kind and warm with the Afghan Jamat and talks bad in their back. (The Afghan jamaat is the favorite jamaat of the Imam).

The wife of one private Majlis Kamadia is in act of adultery having intimate relation with her friend’s husband. The illegal couple was caught by their friends, entering a hotel room but they are still on the post upon which they were appointed by the Imam.

The president of the council is totally controlled by her husband and sometimes it is felt that she is a puppet on display, although this is the biggest appointment for any center. The worst is that the unsecured husband of a second ranking woman in the Imamti institute, asked her to expel her devoted assistant because the husband feels that she has an extramarital affair with her assistant.

I will end up this whole mess with only one question:

Where is the National Council’s action to clean this corruption?

DISCLAIMER: All views expressed in the above article are of the author who is a Ismaili and wanted his voice to be heard throughout the Ismaili Community, especially the Canadian Ismaili Community.  The content here first appeared on Progressive Dawoodi-Bohras forum since the author was not allowed to post his views on any Ismaili discussion forum due to the lack of freedom of speech within the Aga Khani Ismaili Nizari Community.

The Fatimid State: Its Origins, Beliefs and Rulings Thereon

Aga Khani Nizari Ismailis in general are unaware of the actual history and beliefs of what they are taught to be the Fatimid Caliphate. The ‘Ubaydi state,  deceptively called the “Fatimid” state, was founded in Tunis in 297 AH and moved to Egypt in 362 AH, where it was firmly established, and its power spread to a large part of the Muslim world, such as Syria and the Arabian Peninsula. Its rule began with al-Mu’izz li Deen-Allaah Mu’aadh ibn al-Mansoor al-‘Ubaydi and ended with al-‘Aadid ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Yoosuf in 567 AH.

The Muslim imams, scholars and historians spoke of the founding of this state and explained that their claims to be descended from Faatimah (may Allaah be pleased with her) were false, and they described how it spread kufr and heresy, persecuted Ahl al-Sunnah, and supported the kuffaar and even cooperated with them against the Muslims. Among these imams and historians were: Abu Shaamah, Ibn Taghri Bardi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Katheer, al-Dhahabi and many others.

Imam al-Dhahabi said of ‘Ubayd-Allaah al-Mahdi, who was the first ruler of that state:

There are several opinions concerning the lineage of al-Mahdi, which may be summed up by noting that he was neither Haashimi nor Faatimi [i.e., he was not descended from Banu Haashim or from Faatimah]. End quote. 

Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’ (15/151)

And he said:

The genealogists and scholars denied his claims concerning his lineage.

Tareekh al-Islam, events of 321-330 AH, p. 23 

It was narrated that Abu Shaamah – who wrote a book about this state entitled Kashf ma kaana ‘alayhi Banu ‘Ubayd min al-Kufr wa’l-Kadhb wa’l-Makr wa’l-Kayd – said:

They claimed to be descendents of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), although they are descended from a Magian or Jew, until they became known as such, and their state was called al-dawlah al-‘alawiyyah (‘Alawi state – i.e., descendents of ‘Ali) or al-dawlah al-faatimiyyah (Fatimid state). But in fact it is the esoteric, heretic “Jewish state” or “Magian state”.

Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’ (15/213) and al-Rawdatayn fi Akhbaar al-Dawlatayn ((1/216). 

Among the actions and beliefs of the rulers of that state, they claimed to have knowledge of the unseen, and they made claims of Prophethood and divinity, and they demanded that their subjects and followers prostrate to them, and they reviled the Sahaabah. The following sections prore follows proof of the above and more:

1. Claims of Prophethood and Divinity

2. Claim of Having Knowledge of the Unseen

3. People Prostrated to Fatimid Caliph

4. Genocide of Scholars Who Did not Follow The Fatimid Beliefs

5. Close Ties with The Qaraamitah

1. Claims of Prophethood and Divinity

al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) narrated that the fuqaha’ and devoted worshipers supported the Khawaarij in their war against the ‘Ubaydis because of the kufr and heresy of the latter. When Abu Yazeed Makhlad ibn Keedaad al-Khaariji wanted to fight Banu ‘Ubayd, al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

The fuqaha’ and devoted worshippers hastened to make full preparations with drums and banners. Ahmad ibn Abi’l-Waleed addressed them on Friday at Jumu’ah prayers, and he exhorted them and said: Strive against the one who disbelieves in Allaah and claims that he is a lord instead of Allaah. … And he said: O Allaah, this kaafir Qarmati who is known as Ibn ‘Ubayd-Allaah and claims to be divine is denying Your blessings, and He disbelieves in Your Lordship, slanders Your Messengers, disbelieves in Muhammad Your Prophet, and sheds blood. Curse him greatly and humiliate him deeply and send Your curse upon him morning and evening. Then he came down and led them in Jumu’ah prayer. 

Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’ (15/155)

Among those who claimed divinity was the ‘Ubaydi ruler of whom al-Dhahabi said:

The heretic Ismaili who claims to be divine. 

Al-Siyar (15/173). 

He also said concerning him:

It was said that he wanted to claim to be divine and he started to do so, but the prominent figures of his state spoke to him and warned that all the people would rebel against him. End quote. 

Al-Siyar (15/176)

Among those who incited the ruler to make these claims was Hamzah ibn ‘Ali al-Zawzani who was one of those who claimed that the ruler was divine, and who founded the Druze sect in Syria. Al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) also said:

The heretic Durzi was killed because of his claims that the ruler was divine, and some of the ignorant used to say when they saw the ruler: “O One, O One, O giver of life, O giver of death.” 

Al-Siyar (15/180, 181)

Al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

I read in a one-volume book of history which describes what happened each year and was written by some good people around the year 630 and was given to the ruler of Egypt, al-Malik al-Saalih, in 667: 

This action (i.e., putting an end to the ‘Ubaydi state) was one of the noblest of the deeds of Salaah al-Deen al-Ayyoobi. What a good thing he did, for these people were baatinis and heretics who called for belief in transmigration of souls and the belief that the divine was physically incarnated in them.  

Al-Dhahabi said: al-Haakim said to his propagandist: How many do you have listed (as followers)? He said: Sixteen thousand who believe that you are god. 

Their poet said: “Rule, for you are the one, the compeller; it is what you wish and not what the divine decree wills” 

May Allaah curse both the praiser and the praised, for this is no less abhorrent than when Pharaoh said:“I am your lord, most high” [al-Naaz’iaat 79:24].

One of their poets said concerning al-Mahdi in Raqqaadah: 

“Adam and Nooh are there, and anything other than Allaah is nothing.

The Messiah is there in Raqqaadah, Allaah in His glory is there.” 

He said:  

This man is worse in his kufr than the Christians, because the Christians believe that the divine was incarnated physically in ‘Eesa only, but these people believe that He was incarnated in the bodies of Adam, Nooh, the Prophets and all the imams. 

This is their creed, may Allaah curse them. 

Tareekh al-Islam, events of 561-570 AH, p. 274-281. 

When ‘Ubayd-Allaah claimed to be a prophet, he brought two of the faqeehs of Qayrawaan to appear before him as he was sitting on his throne, and he ordered one of his servants to say to the two Shaykhs: “Do you bear witness that this man is the messenger of Allaah?” They said: “By Allaah, if he came to us with the sun on his right and the moon on his left, both of them saying that he was a messenger of Allaah, we would not believe that.” So he ordered that they be slaughtered.  Al-Siyar (14/217).

2. Claim of Having Knowledge of the Unseen

Ibn Khallikaan (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

They claimed to have knowledge of the unseen, and there are well known reports concerning that.  

Wafiyaat al-A’yaan (5/373, 374) 

3. People Prostrated to The Fatimid Caliph

The medieval practice of kissing of the Imam's feet continues in today's day and age with Aga Khan IV.
The medieval practice of kissing of the Imam’s feet continues in today’s day and age with Aga Khan IV

They ordered the people to prostrate for them. al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

In 396 AH, khutbahs were given in the two holy sanctuaries under the authority of the ruler of Egypt al-Haakim, and the people were ordered to stand up and prostrate when he was mentioned. Inna Lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allaah we belong and unto Him is our return).  

Duwal al-Islam (1/350)

When al-Haakim was mentioned they would stand up and prostrate for him. Al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

They stood up and prostrated in the market place, and in their meeting places. Inna Lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allaah we belong and unto Him is our return). These ‘Ubaydis were an evil that befell Islam and the Muslims. 

Al-Tareekh, events of 381-400 AH, p. 234. 

4. Genocide of Scholars Who Did not Follow The Fatimid Beliefs

Abu’l-Hasan al-Qaabisi, the author of al-Mulakhkhas, said:

The number of those killed by ‘Ubayd-Allaah and his descendents in his torture chamber was four thousand scholars and worshippers, to stop them saying “Radiya Allaah ‘anhum (may Allaah be pleased with them)” about the Sahaabah.              

Al-Siyar (15/145)

5. Close Ties with The Qaraamitah

al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

During the reign of al-Mahdi the Qaraamitah committed crimes in Bahrain. They attacked the pilgrims, killing and taking prisoners, and they violated the sanctuary of Allaah in Makkah and took away the Black Stone. ‘Ubayd-Allaah corresponded with them and incited them, may Allaah destroy him. 

Al-Siyar (15/147)

6. Reviling the Sahaabah

During the reign of al-‘Azeez, the Sahaabah were reviled openly. [Al-Siyar (15/170)]

He ordered that words reviling the Sahaabah be written on the doors of the mosques and in the streets, and he ordered his state workers to revile them in 395 AH.  [Tareekh al-Islam, events of 395 AH, p. 283. ]

And he said:

Reviling of the Sahaabah was widespread during his reign (i.e., al-Mustansir) and the Sunnah was unknown and hidden. [Al-Siyar (15/196)]

In brief, they were baatinis who changed the religion of Islam; they were outwardly Raafidis but inwardly they were heretics. Al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

They changed the religion of Islam. They were outwardly Raafidis, but inwardly they were Ismailis.  [Al-Siyar (15/141)]

Al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

As for the baatini ‘Ubaydis, they are enemies of Allaah and His Messenger. 

Al-Siyar (15/373). 

He also (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

 How these ‘Ubaydis tampered with and changed the religion of Islam is indescribable. 

Al-Siyar (16/149). 

Al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

Abu Yoosuf al-Ra’eeni said: The scholars in Qayrawaan are unanimously agreed that Banu ‘Ubayd are apostates and heretics. 

Tarteeb al-Madaarik (4/720); see also al-Siyar (15/151). 

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Radd ‘ala al-Bakri:

The ‘Ubaydis, who are inwardly heretics, follow the beliefs of the philosophers and Magians and have mixed them with Raafidi views. The best they show of commitment to Islam is the Raafidi way, but inwardly they are heretics, worse than the Jews and Christians. 

Hence the scholars said concerning them that they are outwardly Raafidis, but inwardly their belief is pure kufr. They are among the people who venerate shrines the most, and believe in astrology, and other religious practices of the mushrikeen. They are the least likely of people to venerate the mosques which Allaah has ordered to be raised (to be cleaned, and to be honoured), in them His Name is remembered (cf. al-Noor 24:36).Their legacy in Cairo proves that. 

And he said (may Allaah have mercy on him) in al-Radd ‘ala al-Mantiqiyyeen:

The ‘Ubaydis were outwardly Muslim and said that they were Shi’ah, so they appeared to be Raafidis but inwardly they were heretics as Abu Haamid al-Ghazaali said in al-Mustazhari: Outwardly they are Raafidis but inwardly their belief is pure kufr. What Abu Haamid said about them is that on which there is consensus among Muslim scholars. 

He said (may Allaah have mercy on him) in Minhaaj al-Sunnah:

They (the rulers of the ‘Ubaydi state) are well known for their heresy, opposition to Allaah and His Messenger, apostasy and hypocrisy.  

Ibn Katheer said in al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah (11/386):

When the khateeb mentioned al-Haakim the people would all stand up out of respect. They also did that in Egypt, and in addition to that they would prostrate for him. They would prostrate when he was mentioned. So those who were praying would prostrate and those who were in the marketplace would prostrate when they prostrated. May Allaah curse him. 

Such was the ‘Ubaydi state, and these are some of their evil deeds. Thus it is clear that the one who says that the ‘Ubaydi state was an Islamic state and ignores the blessed states and times in which Islam ruled

We ask Allah to bring the Muslims back soundly to their religion.

See the study entitled Mawqif al-Imam al-Dhahabi min al-Dawlah al-‘Ubaydiyyah nasaban wa mu’taqadan by Dr. Sa’d ibn Moosa al-Moosa, assistant professor at the Faculty of Sharee’ah in Umm al-Qura University, which was published in Majallat Jaami’at Umm al-Qura, issue no. 24, Rabee’ al-Awwal 1423 AH/May 2002 CE.

And Allaah is the Source of strength.

Encyclopedia Iranica –

Hazar Imam’s status as “Ulil Amr” in the light of Quran and Hadith

Aga Khani Ismaili missionaries drill into the mind of average Ismaili from childhood that “Ulil Amr” is Aga Khan himself, including his predecessors and successors. The basis of this claim is Chapter 4:Verse 59 of the Qur’an:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا

Yā ‘Ayyuhā Al-Ladhīna ‘Āmanū ‘Aţī`ū Allāha Wa ‘Aţī`ū Ar-Rasūla Wa ‘Ūlī Al-‘Amri Minkum Fa’in Tanāza`tum Fī Shay’in Faruddūhu ‘Ilá Allāhi Wa Ar-Rasūli ‘In Kuntum Tu’uminūna Billāhi Wa Al-Yawmi Al-‘Ākhiri Dhālika Khayrun Wa ‘Aĥsanu Ta’wīlāan

O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end. 

Aga Khanis usually quote the initial part of the verse to support their false belief  due to the fear that their false interpretations will be exposed from the remaining part of the verse itself. They just quote: 

Yā ‘Ayyuhā Al-Ladhīna ‘Āmanū ‘Aţī`ū Allāha Wa ‘Aţī`ū Ar-Rasūla Wa ‘Ūlī Al-‘Amri Minkum

“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority (Ulil Amr) from among you (min kum).” (Qur’an 4:59).

…they deliberately leave the remaining portion of the same verse, which is:

Fa’in Tanāza`tum Fī Shay’in Faruddūhu ‘Ilá Allāhi Wa Ar-Rasūli ‘In Kuntum Tu’uminūna Billāhi Wa Al-Yawmi Al-‘Ākhiri Dhālika Khayrun Wa ‘Aĥsanu Ta’wīlāan

then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end”.

As we can clearly see in the second part of the verse which Aga Khanis avoid quoting,  that Allah (swt) commands believers, that when there arises a dispute between believers and Ulil Amir,  at that time they need to refer back to Allah and the Messenger. We shall analyze verse 4:59 in the sections which follow.

1. Unconditional Obedience is only for Allah and his Prophet

2. Proof from Quran that Obedience to Ulil Amr is Conditional

3. Proof from Hadith that Obidience to Ulil Amr is Conditional

4. Proof from Circumstances of Revelation for Verse of Ulil Amr

5. Conditions for Disobeying Ulil Amr According to Hadith

6. Imam Ali’s (ra) Understanding of Ulil Amr as in Nahjul Balagah

7. Proof from Quran that Ulil Amr Has Nothing to do with Imamat

8. Conclusion

1. Unconditional Obedience is only for Allah and his Prophet

This verse 59 of Surah An-Nisaa is precisely teaching the criteria for evaluating deen of a person. i.e., he or she should believe that: “Other than the Prophet himself, there is absolutely no other human who is perfect enough to be right all the time and whose words or actions could be followed on his own authority, without strong support from the Quran and Sunnah. Several verses of glorious Quran over and over clarify that absolute obedience is for Allah and his Prophet(pbuh) only:

Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers. (3:32)

And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy. (3:132)

All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah,- of the prophets (who teach), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship.(4:69)

And obey Allah and obey the Messenger and beware. And if you turn away – then know that upon Our Messenger is only [the responsibility for] clear notification. (5:92)

So fear Allah and amend that which is between you and obey Allah and His Messenger, if you should be believers. (8:1)

O you who have believed, obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn from him while you hear [his order]. (8:20)

And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. (8:46)

Allah says: “…Obey Allah and His Messenger…” (33:33)

One who disobeys God and His Messenger is in plain error.(33:36)

O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds. (47:33)

As it can be noticed from the above verses of Quran, that the absolute obedience is always for Allah and his Messenger(pbuh) only. However, the verse 4:59 adds a new element, it tells us to obey Allah and obey the messenger and those in authority (Ulil Amr).

2. Proof from Quran that Obidience to Ulil Amr is Conditional

Observe that the word “obey” (أَطِيعُوا) is placed in front of the words Allah and Messenger (pbuh) BUT NOT in front of the word “Those in authority (Ulil Amr)”. Allah did not say “wa atiu Ulil Amri minkoom” (and obey those charged with authority), rather Allah kept it merely at “and those in authority over you” (without adding the word “OBEY” before it) as a sign to indicate a conditional obedience. This is because their obedience is tied with the obedience of Allah and his messenger, if the ones in authority (Ulil Amr) obey Allah and Prophet (pbuh), then and only then do we obey them.

Since this verse is an exception, it is also accompanied by a condition, and the condition is that if we differ with the ones in Authority(Ulil Amr) we should return the matter to Allah and his Messenger (pbuh), WHY? Because only they are divine and infallible and their obedience is absolute. We CAN differ with the ones in authority (Ulil Amr) but we CANNOT differ with Allah and his Messenger (pbuh).

Let us look at the verse  59  of Surah An-Nisaa  carefully and reflect on its contents. The verse commands believers to obey Allah (أَطِيعُوا اللهَ), who must be obeyed in His own right because He is the Creator, Owner, and Master. Then the verse repeats the command and says, “Obey the Messenger”  (أَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ), who should also be obeyed in his own right as the Messenger of Allah, because Allah sent him and ordered us to obey him. He also told us in 4:80:  “Whoever obeys Messenger, he in fact obeys Allah.”

In both of these segments the command “obey” (أَطِيعُوا) was repeated, because obedience to both was on their own authority and in their own right: One as the Creator and the second as His Messenger. Then the verse continues: “and those charged with authority” (وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ). For this segment the command ‘Obey’ has not been repeated, indicating that the obedience to Ulil Amr (those charged with authority), although necessary for the existence of an organized community, is subservient to the obedience to Allah and His Messenger. The obedience to Ulil Amr must only be in matters and orders that are in line with and supported by clear injunctions from Allah and His Messenger. The Ulil Amr cannot demand obedience in their own right or on their own authority, but only in compliance of the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah with clear support from them. That is why the word ‘obey’ (أَطِيعُوا) has not been repeated for them. Had obedience to Ulil Amr not to be constrained within the provisions of the Quran and Sunnah, the style would have been different: Either It would have only one ‘obey’, i.e., “Obey, Allah, the Messenger and Ulil Amr” ; or, obey for all three parties, “obey Allah, obey the Messenger and obey Ulil Amr”. However, the contruct used was different than both of these formats.

The constraint upon the obedience to Ulil Amr is further clarified and emphasized by the next segment of the verse, “If  you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger”. That is: if there is a difference of opinion between rulers (Ulil Amr) and ruled (common people) or any segment of the Ummah, then the matter must be referred only to Allah and His Messenger (Quran and Sunnah). In other words, it must be decided and settled according to the Quran and Sunnah that are the basis of religion. There is no mention of Ulil Amr this time because their opinion or order is not on the basis of their own authority but rather it is acceptable only when it is clearly supported by the provisions of the Quran and Sunnah.

3. Proof from Hadith that Obedience to Ulil Amr is Conditional

3.1 Narrated `Imam Ali that the Prophet sent for a skirmish (sariya) under the command of a man from the Ansar and ordered the soldiers to obey him. He (i.e. the commander) became angry and said “Didn’t the Prophet order you to obey me!” They replied, “Yes.” He said, “Collect firewood for me.” So they collected it. He said, “Make a fire.” When they made it, he said, “Enter it (i.e. the fire).” So they intended to do that and started holding each other and saying, “We run towards (i.e. take refuge with) the Prophet from the fire.” They kept on saying that till the fire was extinguished and the anger of the commander abated. When that news reached the Prophet he said, “If they had entered it (i.e. the fire), they would not have come out of it till the Day of Resurrection. Obedience (to somebody) is required when he enjoins what is good.”(Sahih al-Bukhari 5.629)

Comment: From this narration we found that obedience to the one in authority was necessary but when there rose a dispute, the result was given in the favor of the ones who sided with the teachings of Prophet (pbuh), it was not said that the one in authority should have been obeyed, because what the one in authority commanded was against Allah and his Messenger (pbuh).

3.2 Sayyiduna Abd Allah (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger (pbuh) of Allah  said: A Muslim must listen to  and obey (the order of his ruler) in things that he likes or dislikes, as long as he is not ordered to commit a sin. If he is ordered to disobey Allah, then there is no listening and no obedience. (Sahih al-Bukhari  6725 & Sahih Muslim 1839)

Comment: We find that obedience to ruler is compulsory in general case, as the first part of the verse(4:59) says us, but if the ruler orders to disobey Allah then there is no obedience to him. Thus proving that obedience to rulers is conditional.

4. Proof from Circumstances of Revelation for the Verse of Ulil Amr

Let us look at the ‘Sabab Al-Nuzool’ (“occasion/circumstances of revelation”) of the Ayah to further strengthen the fact that (4:59) was not revealed for the obedience of some future Ulil Amr Imams but those Ulil Amr who were appointed by the Prophet (pbuh).

4.1 Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The verse “Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority.” (4:59) was revealed in connection with `Abdullah bin Hudhafa bin Qais bin `Adi’ when the Prophet appointed him as the commander of a Sariyya (army detachment).This was narrated by Bukhari from Sadaqah ibn al-Fadl and also by Muslim from Zuhayr ibn Harb and both transmitter related it from Hajjaj. (Sahih al-Bukhari 6.108)

4.2 Said Ibn ‘Abbas, according to the narration of Badhan: “The Messenger (pbuh) of Allah (swt) sent Khalid ibn al-Walid in a military expedition to one of the Arab clans. He was accompanied in this expedition by ‘Ammar ibn Yasir. When he drew closer to them at night, he stopped to camp in order to try to conquer them the following morning. Meanwhile this clan was warned about the approaching military expedition which made them flee the area, except for one man who was a Muslim. This man asked his family to get ready to move and then he went to the camp of Khalid and entered in on ‘Ammar. He said to him: ‘O Abu’l-Yaqzan! I am one of you. But my people ran away when they heard you were coming. I stayed because I am Muslim. Is this of any benefit to me, or shall I flee as my people did?’ ‘Ammar said: ‘Stay, for it is beneficial to you’.The man returned to his family and told them to stay. The following morning, Khalid invaded the clan but found no one except this man, and so he imprisoned him and seized his property.‘Ammar went to him and said: ‘Let the man go, for he is a Muslim and I have already given him amnesty and told him to stay’. Khalid said: ‘You give protection from me to others while I am the leader!’ Ammar said: ‘Yes, I give protection from you to others while you are the leader’. And they exchanged angry words.Then they both went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him about the man. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, gave the man amnesty, sanctioned the amnesty that ‘Ammar had given to the man and then forbade him from giving amnesty to anyone in the future without the express permission of his leader. ‘Ammar and Khalid insulted each other in the presence of Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, and when ‘Ammar spoke very rudely to Khalid, the latter became very angry and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, will you allow this slave to insult me? By Allah, if it were not for you, he would not insult me’. ‘Ammar, by the way, was a client of Hashim ibn al-Mughirah. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘O Khalid, leave ‘Ammar alone, for whoever insults ‘Ammar, Allah will insult him, and whoever hates ‘Ammar, Allah will hate him’. Upon which ‘Ammar left. Khalid followed him, and held him by his cloak and asked him to forgive him, which he did. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed this verse, enjoining obedience to those who are in authority”. (Asbaab Al-Nuzool’ for 4:59 by Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ali al-Wahidi)

5. Conditions for Disobeying Ulil Amr According to Hadith

5.1 It has been narrated on the authority of ‘Auf bin Malik that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, who invoke God’s blessings upon you and you invoke His blessings upon them. And the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you and whom you curse and who curse you. It was asked (by those present): Shouldn’t we overthrow them with the help of the sword? He said: No, as long as they establish prayer among you. If you then find anything detestable in them. You should hate their administration, but do not withdraw yourselves from their obedience. (Sahih Muslim Book 20, Number 4573)

5.2 It has been narrated (through a different chain of transmitters) on the authority of Umm Salamah (wife of the Holy Prophet) that he said: Amirs will be appointed over you, and you will find them doing good as well as bad deeds. One who hates their bad deeds is absolved from blame. One who disapproves of their bad deeds is (also) safe (so far as Divine wrath is concerned). But one who approves of their bad deeds and imitates them (is doomed). People asked: Messenger of Allah, shouldn’t we fight against them? He replied: No, as long as they say their prayer. (“Hating and disapproving” refers to liking and disliking from the heart.)

Comment: From the above  narrations we find that Prophet (pbuh) himself declared that there would be Ameers (rulers) who would be doing bad as well as good deeds, yet Prophet (pbuh) commanded that they need to be obeyed. (Sahih Muslim Book 20, Number 4570)

5.3 Narrated Ma’qil:  Allah’s Apostle said, “If any ruler having the authority to rule Muslim subjects dies while he is deceiving them, Allah will forbid Paradise for him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 9, Book 89, Number 265)

Comment: This hadith also proves that Ulil Amr could be ones who can be deceivers and therefore might command something which is not in line with Quranic commandments and Prophetic traditions.

5.4 Al-Nauman ibn Basheer told us: The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Prophethood will remain in you for as long as God decides for it to remain and then God will remove it when He decides to remove it. After Prophethood, there will be a Caliphate on the style of prophethood and it will exist for as long as God decides for it to exist, then He will remove it when He decides to remove it. Then there will be a kingdom in which people will face trials and tribulations and it will continue to exist for as long as God decides for it to exist. Then He will remove it, when He decides to remove it. After this, there will be an oppressive kingdom and it will continue to exist for as long as God decides for it to exist. Then He will remove it, when He decides to remove it. Then there will once again be a rule on the style of prophethood. After saying this, the Prophet (pbuh) was silent.’ (Takhreej Mishkat al Masabih #5306)

Comment: This shows that there would be a time when the ones in rule will be tyrants and oppressors. Aga Khan too, has been referred to as having an ‘earthly kingdom’ (Vanity Fair, February 2013)

6. Imam Ali’s (ra) Understanding of Ulil Amr as in Nahjul Balagah

Let us see Ali’s (ra) understanding and interpretation in his book “Nahjul Balagha (Peak of Eloquence)”. In the Letter #53 to al-Ashtar al-Nakha’ee whom He (ra) had appointed as the ruler of Egypt, he writes:

“Maalik, You must never forget that if you are a ruler over them than the caliph is the ruler over you and Allah is the Supreme Lord over the caliph. And the reality is that He has appointed you as the governor and tested you through the responsibility of this rulership over them.”

And then He says:

وَارْدُدْ إِلَى الله وَرَسُولِهِ مَا يُضْلِعُكَ مِنَ الْخُطُوبِ (1)، وَيَشْتَبِهُ عَلَيْكَ مِنَ الاْمُورِ، فَقَدْ قَالَ اللهُ سبحانه لِقَوْم أَحَبَّ إِرْشَادَهُمْ: (يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الاْمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْء فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَالرَّسُولِ)، فَالرَّدُّ إِلَى اللهِ: الاْخْذُ بِمُحْكَمِ كِتَابِهِ (2)، وَالرَّدُّ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ: الاْخْذُ بِسُنَّتِهِ الْجَامِعةِ غَيْرِ الْمُفَرِّقَةِ

“When you are faced with problems which you cannot solve or with a difficult situation from which you cannot escape or when uncertain and doubtful circumstances confuse and perplex you, then turn to Allah and the Holy Prophet (s) because Allah has thus ordered those whom He wants to guide: “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger” The way to turn to Allah is to act diligently according to the clear and explicit orders given in His Holy Book and to the turn to the Holy Prophet (s) means to follow those of his Sunnah about which there is no doubt and ambiguity and which have been generally accepted to be correctly recorded.” (Nahj al-Balagha, Letter #53)

Therefore, Ali (ra) advised to Maalik, who was appointed in authority over Egypt, that if he faced any problem or difficulty then he needed to turn to Allah (swt) and Prophet (pbuh), because Allah mentioned in Quran the verse 4:59, and its later part commands to refer Allah and his Prophet during disagreement.

It is obvious from this letter of Ali (ra) that that Ali (ra) considered Maalik who was appointed in authority over Egypt as Ulil Amr (the one who is in authority) which is why He (ra) directed Maalik to the verse 4:59  which is about, what is to be done when their appears a dispute between Ulil Amr and Believers. Ali could have said if you face any problem refer to me, but He (ra) didn’t say anything as such. It is surprising that even Ali (ra) who is considered by Aga Khani Ismailis as Aga Khan’s predecessor never considered himself as Ulil Amr, but Aga Khan himself does consider himself one and has even gone to the extent of modifying or abolishing all pillars of faith.

7. Proof from Quran that Ulil Amr Has Nothing to do With Imamat

One final proof for those who would like to debate on the authenticity of Hadith and Nahj al-Balagha and on the different interpretations of 4:59 is to examine the Quran itself and see where else does Ulil Amr appear in the Quran. Interestingly, in the same Chapter 4 of the Qur’an, Allah (swt) again mentions Ulil Amr as follows in Verse 83:

وَإِذَا جَاءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِّنَ الْأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا بِهِ ۖ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَىٰ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ ۗ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لَاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

Wa ‘Idhā Jā’ahum ‘Amrun Mina Al-‘Amni ‘Awi Al-Khawfi ‘Adhā`ū Bihi Wa Law Raddūhu ‘Ilá Ar-Rasūli Wa ‘Ilá ‘Ūlī Al-‘Amri Minhum La`alimahu Al-Ladhīna Yastanbiţūnahu Minhum Wa Lawlā Fađlu Allāhi `Alaykum Wa Raĥmatuhu Lāttaba`tumu AshShayţāna ‘Illā Qalīlāan

And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.

Here, Allah asks the believers to confer to the Prophet or Ulil Amr, i.e., the appointed one in authority by the Messenger (pbuh) – which can be anyone high enough in rank and authority to have the knowledge, wisdom and resources of verifying news and drawing correct conclusions from it. The use of the term Ulil Amr here is the final clear evidence that Ulil Amr are general Muslim leaders and governors who were charged with authority during different times.

8. Conclusion

It is evident from the above article that:

(a) Obedience to Allah and His messenger is unconditional;

(b) Obedience to Ulil Amr is conditional;

(c) Ulil Amr (those in authority) were general Muslim authorities in the context of revelation of this verse; and

(d) It is our duty to reject the commands of Ulil Amr if it contradicts with Quranic commandments and the Prophetic traditions.

Extracted and summarized for Nizari Ismaili readers from ‘A multi-angular refutation of Shiite views on Ulil Amir’ at: Amr459/

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